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Urban Cowboy
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Reviews & Ratings for
Urban Cowboy More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

How Can You Not Like This Movie???

9/10
Author: rkerns6938 from United States
11 October 2005

First let me say I am not from the south but I am an American. I don't love Country music but I can stomach it. I would never wear a cowboy hat but I wear hats. I don't live in a trailer but I do eat tuna salad and own a home. What does that have to do with this comment? A lot if you are one of those people who say only "country" people love this movie. This movie is loosely based on the "They loved and lost" premise. James Bridges directs an American love story as real as it gets. In an era of Jerry Springer and "Lets put it out there" mentality, this film rings truer than ever.

Bud is "coming of age" and embarks on a life of his own with a little help from his aunt and uncle so he moves to the big city with them. Bud finds himself drawn into the local honky tonk world for the only escape a blue collar man can afford. He quickly meets Sissy who is from a similar background and the two have a whirlwind romance filled with painful ups and downs.

(*This plot takes so many turns that one has to just sit for a few minutes before they get hooked. Marriage is a focus here that is often missed. Early in the film they marry and we view the transition from being single to married. The film highlights some of the modern struggles a woman has when she marries an old fashioned man. It also brings into view the male ego with women and competition.)

Bud is challenged and is excited when Micky's puts in an electronic bull. Sissy gets ideas of having fun on it too but is quickly reminded that she is married and need to start "acting like it." The emotion between the two characters is raw and expressive and the plot continues from there especially when they (NOTE THIS IS GIVING SOME OF THE STORYLINE AWAY) split and Sissy falls for an ex con with a penchant for abuse and cruelty. She soon realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

How anyone can compare Bud to Vinnie Barbirino is shocking to me. John Travolta gave an exceptional performance that was worthy recognition. He was believable and real. The scene where he shaves his beard and you first see him at the bar..still gives me goosebumps. Mind you I am not a huge Travolta fan, but come on, I see why Sissy was kicking of her boots so early in the film. Deb Winger was so real that you found yourself sympathizing with her as she pens a note of emotions to Bud, after sneaking in to clean his house during their break up.

The supporting cast was incredible. Wes played by Scott Glenn gave a first rate performance that made you hate him and curse him as he abused Sissy. Madolyn Smith-Osborne, as Buds Mistress/girlfriend was so authentic that large chested girls across the U.S. prayed to wake up flat chested to wear the clothes she donned in the film. My biggest kudos's go to Barry Corbin and Brooke Anderson as Bud's aunt and uncle. They seemed like someone's aunt and uncle somewhere in Texas and however small their role, they made the film so much bigger and lifelike. Two memorable scenes were the Dolly Parton contest and the unforgettable scene where Bud and his aunt stand outside after one of the characters death. The dialog between them is touching.

If you can watch this for what it is, a true American love story. Then I recommend that you take it for what it is...a film before it's time that gave us voyeurism into a world unlike our own but real enough for our enjoyment and entertainment. If this world sounds similar to yours then you will enjoy it so much more. Lastly, the music however dated, is sure to send you back in time if you are over 30 years of age.

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Like it or not, fiction it ain't

10/10
Author: mreed from Durham, NC
6 January 2000

Okay, so I have come a long way from Houston by now, but whenever I see this movie, I am taken back to a little cowgirl's dream to one day ride the bull at Gilley's. (It burned down before I was of drinking age.)

If you grew up in in East Texas, then you know this movie is an accurate depiction of contemporary life at that time. If you didn't then trust me and watch the movie. Either you will join the many who love it (and at the same time strangely repulsed), or at the very least, you can make fun of the red-necks. (There is plenty material for poking fun.) This movie doesn't try to be P.C. (what was that in the 80's) or hide the white trash element and it is honest to the time and place.

Gotta be a 10 for me!

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

An entertaining period piece. Travolta shines.

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
28 August 2003

This film is a classic compared to the Latham/Bridges/Travolta misfire called PERFECT which came out in 1985.

This film showcases the Houston lifestyle of the oil boom in the early 1980s. We get an insider's view of their jobs, hangouts, and relationships as Travolta and the gang live out their daily lives.

There are some excellent supporting performances here, but make no mistake: THIS IS TRAVOLTA'S SHOW! Who would have thought at the time he'd make such a credible Texan? You almost have to remind yourself this guy was one of the Sweathogs from Welcome Back Kotter. We get to see him dance, fight, ride a mechanical bull, and score with a number of hot women. What more could you ask for? I think this is his best performance to date.

The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard. You won't hear any of this crappy pop-country that is en vogue today. It's just good old fashioned music you can dance or make love to.

This film displays the downfalls of couples who get married too quickly in a very realistic manner. Bud and Sissy resemble a lot of young couples without big bank accounts who have trouble getting along.

Scott Glenn makes a terrific villain, too.

Do yourself a favor and see this one. Or see it again if it's been a while. Travolta could use a hit movie like this one right about now in his career.

9 of 10 stars

So sayeth the Hound.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Glory Days of The Energy City.

Author: jwrowe3 from Tampa, FL
16 May 2003

PERSONAL NOTE: I saw this movie in the Palms Theater, in Sugar Land Texas, in August 1980, with my high school girlfriend. The theater, and the girl, are both long gone.

Back to the review....

For those of you who grew up, or lived in and around Houston during the 70's, this is a delight to watch. I tend to endure Travolta, and that horrid "twang" he tries to do, but it's okay, the rest of the flick makes up for that!

-Minor Spoilers-

We start the movie w/Bud coming to town. Just watching him drive thru Houston, thru the 610 loop, and on to his Uncle's place is a treat. There is the Houston of "Big Oil and Big Space". When I was little, and went on vacations, if some one asked me where I was from, their next question was "Do you have a ranch, own an oil well, or know astronauts?" That was part of the joy of being from Houston, back in the old days.

But I'm rambling. The casting on URBAN COWBOY is great, not a dud in the bunch, even counting the Travolta factor. Only he could have pulled this movie off, at the time it was made. On a side note, it was common practice during the filming of "UC", for the local media to have a "Travolta Sighting" comment on the news, or in the newspapers. The biggest spotting occurred in mid 1979 at the sports arena, known at the time as "The Summit". Travolta appeared, in "the white suit" from Saturday Night Fever at a Bee Gee's concert, and hopped up on stage. No one recognized him at first, as he had grown a beard for the opening parts of the movie.

If you grew up around Houston during this long-past era, this is a "MUST OWN". My daughters always ask if I ever rode a mechanical bull when we watch it.

But I have always wondered about one small thing in this picture. And this is simply 'cause I am a car geek. Why, at the end of the movie when Bud and Sissy drive away from Gilley's, is there, parked amongst the F-150's, GMC's, Chevy Big 10's, and other pick-up trucks, a Volvo P1800 wagon? You can't miss it.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

What a sound track !

Author: caspian1978 from Boston, MA
12 March 2001

The music in this movie is worth renting alone. You also get John Travolta and Debra Winger in a wonderful story about bull riding, beer, and finding true love in Texas. The two kiss scenes with John and Debra are classics. The first one on the dance floor makes you want to get up and dance. The final kiss scene completes the film with a happy ending. Even if you're not a "hick" check out this film.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Days In The Oil Fields, Nights At Gilley's

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
9 February 2009

For Urban Cowboy John Travolta plays one of the stronger alpha males ever portrayed on the big screen. He's a decent enough young kid who leaves his parent's homestead and strikes out for the big city of Dallas where his uncle Barry Corbin has promised to find him work in the petrochemical industry. In 1980 that was beginning to boom and Texas was definitely a growing place in the USA.

Travolta does a good job in making we the audience care about his character who when you come right down to it is a sexist pig. He meets and marries Debra Winger who's from the same background, but she's got some ideas that women should not be shadows of their men. And when she beats him at Gilley's mechanical bull, a man's game, that's it for him.

Scott Glenn who's an ex-convict is working at Gilley's and this film was his breakout role. He's a real snake in Urban Cowboy, he gets Travolta's goat with a mere look and he moves in on Winger. Travolta in turn takes up with rich girl, Madolyn Smith Osborne who's slumming at Gilley's.

Despite the characters, Urban Cowboy was really one gigantic commercial for the self-styled biggest honky tonk in the world. Gilley's is no longer there in the suburban Texas community of Pasadena, but the memories do live on. And the best thing about Urban Cowboy is the wonderful score of country/western songs that were featured in the film. I'm not sure if some of the songs were not written specifically for Urban Cowboy, but it's the only reason I can think of why the Motion Picture Academy ignored the musical aspects of this film. I especially liked Johnny Lee's Looking For Love, if it was specifically written for this film, it's a disgrace that it wasn't nominated for Best Song.

I liked Debra Winger's character best in this film. She doesn't lose a trace of femininity, but she stands up to Travolta and does it in style. And this review is dedicated to that yet as unknown woman who will one day be the first woman bull-rider in the Professional Bull Riders.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Great

10/10
Author: Joseph Pintar from New Hartford, NY
25 January 2004

This is a great movie that I don't think gets enough credit as Saturday Night Fever or Grease in John Travolta's career. He plays a man who is in love with a girl but is too pig headed to admit his feelings to her. Instead, he wants to engage in mechanical bull riding because he thinks it will show his manhood. Even though it was made in 1980, it is still timely today. The great country music soundtrack is terrific. 10/10

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Vinnie Barbarino does the Texas 2 Step

7/10
Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
27 March 2002

I bellied up to the bar expecting this to be a hot beer on a sweltering Texas day but was pleasantly surprised. After suffering through "Saturday Night Foolishness" I had no desire to see a re-make in some south Texas barnyard....and I didn't. John Revolta was good as the jealous redneck, Scott Glenn was well cast as a thuggie ex-con, and Debra Winger was, as always, a delight. *Love that woman* Plus, the soundtrack was dynamite [and this comes from a guy that can't stand the sound of country music]. A fun film all the way.

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25 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Those Tough Trailer Park Rednecks

8/10
Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
18 June 2005

An unmarried, twenty-something hick (played by John Travolta) leaves the farm and goes to Houston, where he learns about life and love in a Texas honky-tonk. At face value, it's a modern love story ... Texas style. There's gobs of cowboy hats, pickup trucks, neon beer signs, and references to big belt-buckles and rodeos. The music, if not Texas native, is Texas adapted, courtesy of the talents of Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, and the Charlie Daniels Band. And that Texas twang ... "y'all".

The story and the characters are about as subtle as the taste of Texas five-alarm chili made with Jalapeno peppers. It's enough to make civilized viewers abort the film in favor of a genteel classic, one starring Laurence Olivier or Ingrid Bergman, maybe. "Hamlet" it's not. But "Urban Cowboy" is spicy and explicit, and I kinda like it.

Technically, the film is generally good. The dialogue, the production design, and the costumes are all realistic; the editing is skillful. And both the casting and the acting are commendable, if not Oscar worthy. I would not have cast Travolta in the role he plays, but he does a fine job ... ditto Debra Winger. Barry Corbin and Brooke Alderson, among others, are good too, in support roles. But, the cinematography seemed weak. The film copy I watched was grainy, and at times suffered from a reddish/orange tint, a visual trait I have noticed in other films from the same time period.

At first glance, the film does not seem to offer any social or political "message". But I would argue that when "Urban Cowboy" was released twenty-five years ago, it had rather prophetic implications. In 1980 the U.S. had all kinds of problems, not the least being American hostages held by Iran. In the minds of a lot of folks back then, the U.S. was being pushed around, bullied.

This film, along with others of its time, offered something that Americans wanted to see in their political leaders ... toughness. "Urban Cowboy" is a very physical film. The characters in it may not be the brightest people on Earth. But, they're tough!

Everything about "Urban Cowboy" is anti-intellectual. As a vehicle for cultural expression then, this 1980 film was one of several that augured a new get-tough era for the U.S. It started in 1980 with the election of Reagan. And that era continues to this day, with a President who probably will not be remembered for his intellect, but will be remembered for his toughness and aggression, traits that Americans seem to gravitate to as surely as Texans to five-alarm chili.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

For the Redneck in all of us

8/10
Author: philhodgman from United States
16 December 2011

This is a highly underrated movie. It has a decent plot, exceptional acting by John Travolta, Debra Winger, Scott Glenn, and supporting cast, and toe tapping pop country music throughout. Although the emphasis on mechanical bull riding is a little silly, the main characters are plausible in their motivations, their jealosies, and in the end, their abiding love for each other. The popularity of the movie to a wide section of America is proof that it is more than just a movie appealing "country" or "redneck" types. There's something about Debra Winger - her change of moods, her expressiveness, her vulnerability - where you just can't take your eyes off her when she is on camera. And the movie is downright fun with the Charlie Daniels Band, Travolta's Texas 2 step dancing scenes, and mechanical bull riding contests. There's no deep message to this movie, but it has a certain simple honesty about it, and it'll entertain you for its 2-hour duration.

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